Take the junk out of junk mail

EDDM is effective and efficient

By Barry Wilson

When’s the last time your business used direct mail to attract customers? Chances are, it wasn’t very recently. In fact, just about the only companies that have gone out of their way to keep direct mail as a core component of their marketing initiatives are Fortune 500s.

Why? Because for many small businesses, email marketing serves the same purpose and at a much lower cost, if not free. But it does have drawbacks of its own; namely how easily it can be ignored, with recipients being able to delete your marketing message without ever even seeing it.

Because of this disposability of email marketing, direct mail is resurging as a viable marketing option for small businesses — more specifically, the option of Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM®) via the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Junk mail? Think again!

The idea of “junk mail” is something that has long been a burden on direct mail campaigns. In the ’80s and ’90s direct mail advertising was the premier way to put your marketing message in front of customers. Far too many companies jockeyed for face time through the mailbox, leading to mountains of advertisements that inadvertently trained consumers to ignore them.

Today junk mail is far less prolific and more often than not, the advertisements in our mailboxes are from local businesses we know, with more sophisticated targeting toward our interests. As a result, we spend a few more crucial seconds looking at mail before we decide what to do with it. Contrast that with the near instantaneous disposal of junk mail.

Direct mail advertising is primed for a comeback (and already reinventing itself!), with the caveat that marketers need to learn from the mistakes of past decades.

Some of the lessons learned include:

  • Creating a clear, concise, and feasible call to action. Incorporating websites, QR codes and apps make it easy for marketers to lead potential customers to more information or special offers through their smartphones.
  • Using variable data printing to engage customers right from the get-go. “Our neighbor” might seem like a nice salutation, but it reminds customers they’re not being viewed as an individual, just as a member of your marketing demographic. With today’s access to data, it’s easy to address your customer or prospect by name. 
  • Blanketing the field. Running multiple campaigns or the same campaign within too short of a window will put you on the shortlist to the trash can. Space your campaigns and re-tool them appropriately.

Understanding the possibilities direct mail presents is only half of the puzzle in reestablishing this core component of your small-business marketing scheme. The second half is distributing your mail effectively. This is where EDDM campaigns have proven to be an innovative step forward for direct mail.

Using a targeted and refined approach through EDDM gives your small business a better shot at ending up in the mailbox of someone who will have a genuine interest. Make sure you’re presenting a message, promotion or call to action that will grab the attention of the reader. 

EDDM is quick to launch and can be one of the most affordable and effective marketing tactics available to small businesses. You can find a U.S. Postal Service-qualified EDDM printer and mailer using the USPS directory at printerdirectory.usps.com.


What EDDM can do for you:

  • Map a specific geographic distribution area for your campaign that overlays where your best customers and prospects are located.
  • Control your mailer drop dates to ensure you’re not overloading recipients with too-frequent advertisement campaigns.
  • Gauge the cost of your specific campaign based on mail quantities and frequency.

Barry Wilson is co-owner with his wife, Rita, of AlphaGraphics, serving Hilton Head-Bluffton-Beaufort.

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